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Old 02-22-2016, 12:46 PM   #1
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Chili Thickener

In my neck of the woods, chili made by most home cooks contain the following;
Canned, whole tomatoes, cut into chunks
sliced celery
Sliced onion
Ground beef
Chili powder
Dark-red Kidney beans

This is the chili I grew up with, and I still love it to this day. The ratio of ingredients is important. Of course anyone familiar with my chili knows that I put a lot more ingredients, and effort into any pot of red that I make.

We just had a chili-based pot luck at church, with 5 differnet chili variations on the theme. One of them was a standard U.P. chili as described above. The seasonings were perfect and I enjoyed it immensely. Another version tasted to me like the head chef of that home opened a jar of canned, sliced tomato, dumped it into a pot and added ground beef and kidney beans. It had no chili flavor that I could discern. My own was something new to me, though I always use a lot of flavors and make it thick.

Here's the interesting part of all of this: I wanted to thicken this chili as it was a bit soupy, and most U.P. chili pots tend to be. But I didn't want to add other flavors, such as flour, or Masa Harina ( which makes an excellent thickener for chili). I wanted pure mid-western, Eastern Upper Peninsula Michigan chili flavor, but thick enough to scoop up with a cracker. I got what I was looking for. Here's how I made it.

Ingredients:
1 lb. dried Pinto Beans
1 lb. dried orange lentils (yep, you're reading it right, lentils)
Water to cover and rise above the beans by 4 inches.
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tbs. ground cumin
1 tbs. salt

Bring to a slow boil in slow cooker and simmer for 4 hours or so, so that the beans are tender and will stay that way when the acidic ingredients are added. If more water is needed during the simmering period, add it a cup at a time, stirring until there is enough water to cover the beans.

When the beans are tender, add:
24 oz. can diced tomato
3 stalks celery, sliced
1 large, yellow onion, sliced
2 19 0z cans kidney beans
1 tsp. granulated garlic (needed to accent, but not able to taste it)

Simmer for an hour, stir and taste. The lentils should have broken down into a thick mass that holds everything in suspension, without being pasty like refried beans. Finally:

Brown 2 lbs. coarse-grind beef for chili, then add to the mixture. Let simmer on low for an hour. Correct the seasonings (add more chili powder and any peppers you might want to put in). Serve and enjoy.

Remember, lentils thicken chili wonderully, are healthy, and no will even know they're in there.

seeeeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North

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Old 02-22-2016, 01:02 PM   #2
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Chief, that sounds weird. You can taste the masa as a thickener but not the lentils?
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Old 02-22-2016, 01:14 PM   #3
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I like loose chili.
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Old 02-22-2016, 02:18 PM   #4
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I never have a problem with chili being too thin. All I use to make the base are dried chilies, (a combo of guajillo, New Mexico, ancho, de arbol, or whatever is available), water, and an 8 oz. can of tomato sauce. I de-seed the chilies, roast them in the oven, and then rehydrate 30 minutes in enough hot water to cover them. Put the whole kit and kaboodle into a blender and whiz it for a minute.

Usually I end up adding more water because it's so thick. But if it's too thin, you simply cook it down until it's the desired consistency. Nothing difficult about it at all. I'm not sure why you would want to use lentils.

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Old 02-22-2016, 02:37 PM   #5
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I've never had a problem with my chili being too thin, usually just the opposite!

Sometimes I thin it out with a bit of low sodium V8.
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Old 02-22-2016, 03:12 PM   #6
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Too thin = used too much water, IMO
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Old 02-22-2016, 03:20 PM   #7
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Chief, I'm trying to understand the reason for using lentels to thicken your chili when you admit liking Masa Harina. Did you run out of Masa?
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Old 02-22-2016, 03:21 PM   #8
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I don't use any water. Just canned kidney beans plus can liquid and canned crushed tomatoes. I serve over brown rice so I like it a bit loose and spicy.

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Old 02-22-2016, 03:28 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by msmofet View Post
I like it a bit loose and spicy.

So do I ....
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Old 02-22-2016, 03:54 PM   #10
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I thicken with tomato paste.
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